Ashton Agar, who came into international limelight after missing out on a hundred, batting at number 11 on debut in the Ashes earlier this year, scored a 40-ball industrious 35, with the help of 6 fours. He shared a 55-run opening-wicket stand with skipper Simon Katich to take Perth Scorchers off to a steady start against the Mumbai Indians. (All BCCI images)
A fitter and slimmer looking Pragyan Ojha was the first to get a breakthrough for the Mumbai Indians and he struck twice in the 10th over, bowling both the openers.
Playing the first professional Twenty20 game of his life, Sam Whiteman starred for the Perth Scorchers, scoring a 32-ball 51* with the help of six fours and two sixes. Thanks to him, Perth ended at a fighting 149 for 6.
Mumbai Indians needed to chase down the 150-run target inside 14.2 overs to qualify for the semis. Many wondered if opening the batting with out-of-form Sachin Tendulkar would backfire for them. Sachin failed to find the runs even on Wednesday, getting out for a duck. Perth Scorchers' left-arm pacer Jason Beherndorff dismissed him in the second over. He struck again in the 4th over to get rid of Glenn Maxwell for 10.
While Mumbai lost their first two wickets, Dwayne Smith was maintaining a good scoring rate, keeping them on track for the 10-an-over required rate to qualify for semis. Altogether Smith made an enterprising 25-ball 48 and was out against the run of play by Brad Hogg.
One Dwayne Smith was out, Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma took centrestage and never allowed the scoring rate to dip. In fact, he upped the ante so much that literraly cruised in the final few over to get to the target. Rohit (51* off 24) hammered his 26th T20 fifty.
Ambati Rayudu hit consecutive sixes to help Mumbai romp home in 13.2 overs. Mumbai thus completed a 6-wicket mauling of Perth.
There was joy on the faces of all Mumbai players and their skipper Rohit also said that the IPL champions were peaking just at the right time. More important than the win today, Mumbai cherished sealing a semi-final berth, meaning that Sachin Tendulkar would get another chance to play in front of the Feroz Shah Kotla crowd in New Delhi.
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